ROAD TRIP 3:  Scenes from a life


Susan Smith Nash



Wedding afternoon


He encouraged Icarus to follow him.  We know the eventual outcome of that.  When I heard them say "Icarus," I heard "igrat" meaning "to play" in Russian.  Who knew that what I thought was an adventure, a joyous, playful new life was, in fact, a repetition of that fateful flight.  Myth defines you, even when you are unaware.  I'm not angry about it -- wouldn't it have been boring to be a child at play all this time?  Fly.  Fall down.  Start over.  Fly again.


Birth of son


The sun pink like a newborn head.  The mind exaggerate that one pop in the spinal column; my belief in inarticulate joy intermingles with inexorable "discomfort" euphemistically called so.  With birth comes dread.  I can't protect myself.  How can I protect a sentient being?  In spite of the world's failures, new beginnings are hope held out -- a plush pink teddy bear, a tiny stocking cap handknitted by women recently widowed, a room freshly wallpapered pink and blue.  Identity is what we make it -- an essential duality:  l'enfant terrible / gullible savant.  I look for a road home, but all I find are pathways scattered with wrapping paper and fading silk flowers.  Language refuses.  Limits hang on the horizon.  In spite of a setting sun like a baby's head.  Ridiculously hairy.


Hiking in Palo Duro Canyon


I prefered the darkness to scorching rock, burned face, and country western songs on the radio.  We started early.  After ten miles, I was mentally prepared for confession.  Canyon walls.  Fine-grained sandstone.  You, too, can be smooth like that if you prepare yourself for the mental equivalent of a flash flood.  Georgia O'Keeffe lived near here.  The mind needs to see the human form in rocks, flowers, and twisted wood.  I see only thoughts.  The air is almost too pure here, the stars too close.  We understand that after such a long hike, we will know each other in new ways.  The smell of sage will remind me of loneliness, not of body but of spirit.  The darkness will hide my tears.


Waking early


Head resting on dreams as if pillows gave no support.  The fear sneaks in on shadowed tiptoes.  I'm in a place I call tomorrow.  You're caught up in conflicts caused by wanting.  The alarm clock flashes 12:00 when I least expect it.  We lost electricity again last night when thunder asserted that the sky is and always will be higher than the earth.  War imaginings and dread.  I've said one thing and then another.  I'll fill up my coffee cup with instant cappuccino and boiling water.  Bagels toasting.  I'm hoping that the ritual of morning will settle my nerves, convince me that daylight will happen.  How many prayers do I have to repeat to quell the heart surging with sadness and loss?  How do I choose?  Our Father?  Heart Sutra?  Coffee, bagels, morning newspaper.  All would be good if I could force myself out of bed.


Walking to school


The walk is such a cliche of childhood, or is it?  Childhood becomes quickly tranformed into a mirror, or a simulacrum of the image of a person in charge of one's own direction.  The tangle of an unavoidable future, Dante's dark wood - a metaphor of the soul needing grace.  Sadness and guilt are knives inflicting senseless damage.  I'm sitting on the front porch, surprised at how hard the concrete really is.  Temperatures are rarely as you expect them. I'm staying inside the mirror of childhood viewed in reverse, and always with an emotional agenda.  Sand, wind, runny noses.  Teachers taught that they will be simulacra of themselves.  The teacher voice mocks my need for affirmation.  Strange how my hands still clench the ineffable, like sand, sweat, forgetting.